Category Archives: Opinion


EDITORIAL: from the News-Ledger, April 18, 2012 —

The mayor’s recap of West Sacramento’s 25-year history as a city during last week’s “State of the City” address brought back some fond memories.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon noted that one of the things that delayed the creation of this city was a level of distrust between its neighborhoods. This distrust was a factor in the failure of a couple of prior attempts to create a city here.

Missing from the mayor’s address, though, was any mention of another element that complicated both the 1986 incorporation effort and the early years of West Sacramento: the influence of developers. Property developers hoping to earn a nice living off all that undeveloped real estate here in “East Yolo” joined citizens concerned about crime and the lack of shopping opportunities in campaigning for cityhood in 1986. They won.

And the city eventually made a lot of progress in improving public safety and creating retail shopping.

But the developers and land speculators also got a lot of what they wanted, and had an undue influence over the early West Sacramento city council. Any retrospective on these early years needs to note the city’s tension over development issues.

The News-Ledger doesn’t know for sure that this is a growing problem. But a look over our “Police Log” in recent weeks seems to show something alarming:

There has been an apparent small rash of home burglaries committed while a resident was home and asleep inside.  This kind of brazen break-in has occurred on Buckeye Drive, Fremont Boulevard and Meadow Road. In a couple of cases, the thief has taken car keys along with other things from inside, and then stolen a parked car from outside.

Burglaries of vacant homes are more common. But it’s easy to see the potential for something to go horribly wrong when thieves are breaking into a home while somebody is inside.

  When West Sacramento planned its West Capitol Avenue streetfront improvements, it needed to buy some small strips of property along edges of some privately-held land. Some property owners negotiated as hard as they could to get the best possible price.

At least one – the “City of Dharma Realm” Buddhist monastery at West Capitol Avenue, simply gave the needed square feet to West Sacramento’s taxpayers. That’s something you don’t see very often.

So it’s especially painful to see that the institution has been plagued by a lengthy serious of petty crimes and break-ins. Let’s all keep an eye out for them.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

‘Confessions of a reluctant mouse-assassin’


I was talking to a friend the other day about my hope of taking a little weekend trip this spring out into the Southern California desert, the goal being to spend at least one night sleeping out under a blanket of stars.

“Don’t they have rattlesnakes out there?” my friend asked with concern.


“Well,” I explained, “I plan on sleeping in the bed of my pickup truck and rattlesnakes are more into slithering than climbing. But if I do use a tent, I’ve already promised my daughter that I will make sure it’s hermetically sealed.”

“I hate snakes,” said my friend. “The only good thing about them is that they eat mice, which I hate even more than snakes.”

“Why is that?” I asked with interest.

“Well, I guess it started back when I was teaching and the teacher I shared my room with was always leaving boxes of sugary cereal around, which he loved to snack on. So of course it wasn’t long before there were mice everywhere, including running back and forth under my desk while I was sitting in it.

“But I have a more recent example for you from just last week. I was sitting very quietly in my living room, no loud and obnoxious reality TV shows on, no music playing in the background, and I had even turned my cell phone off because sometimes I just need to completely decompress after a noisy and much too busy day at the office. Then, with the whole house wonderfully still, all of a sudden I heard the patter of little feet up in the attic.

“My husband was out of town, but men are never there when you need them anyway. I immediately knew what the problem was because we have had it in the past. So I very reluctantly got up off my very comfortable couch and went out into the cold garage in search of some of those newish kind of mouse traps which are very easy to set that my husband had purchased the last time we had mice in the house. When I finally found them, I baited two with some very enticing extra-crunchy peanut butter, which I’ve been told mice will kill for – or rather be killed for.

  “Then, also very reluctantly, off to the attic I went. But having no interest whatsoever in seeing – much less confronting – a live mouse, I slowly shoved the baited traps just inside the attic door and scampered back down the stairs. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, since no one wants to think of themselves as an assassin, even if it’s just vermin you’re sending to the other side. So I was in no hurry the next morning to go up to the attic to see how things had turned out. But since I had to get some Easter decorations down from there, I had no choice. And sure enough, there were two squished mice, with their lifeless eyes staring up at me.

“I simply couldn’t deal with it at that moment, so I left everything untouched and got ready for work. But once at work, I made the very big mistake of telling a co-worker about my ordeal, only to find out she is a vegetarian, which to her apparently means all vermin should be treated kindly and shooed out of the house with happy wishes. Maybe she thought Cinderella’s dress-making was going on in my attic or something, but she was very unhappy with me. Plus she kind of hinted around that I could have at least removed the poor mice from the terrible devices which had killed them and given them a decent burial.

“Anyway, later that night I dressed for the mission. Along with a baseball cap to hold my hair back in a tight ponytail, I put on a leather jacket, my hiking boots, and rubber gloves, the goal being to carefully protect myself against any grieving or angry mouse relatives or friends I might encounter. I also put on sunglasses, even though it was dark out and I was indoors, so that I couldn’t see any of the messy details.  Unfortunately, I immediately saw details, and one of the dead mice looked suspiciously like a lactating female, which meant I had probably destroyed a perfectly happy family. It also meant that I would probably have to soon return with more traps to snuff out the babies.

“I was beginning to feel like a mass murderer. Plus the hard part was still ahead – getting the corpses out of my attic. I had a shovel with me, but that was mostly in case any other mice tried to rush me. To actually pick up the dead mice, I used two long corn tongs, and the whole time I was doing it, a scream kept building up in the back of my throat. Then I had to get them – and the corn tongs that of course could never be used again – into a plastic bag, which I finally managed to do.

  “I triple-bagged everything, raced down the stairs and into the backyard, and dropped the whole awful mess into the garbage can. Then I let out the scream I had been holding inside for fifteen minutes, only to scare the bejesus out of my poor neighbors.”

“That’s quite a story!” I told my friend, who still appeared to be quite shaken even though the events she had described in such detail had happened over a week ago.

“So,” I asked, “have you heard any more mice up in your attic?”

“No, not yet. But my husband thinks we should get a cat.”

“Now that’s a good idea.”

“But I’m allergic to cats. I guess it would probably be okay if the cat was only around for a few days every now and then. Do you know any place that rents cats?”

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

It’s only kindness that matters

NEWS-LEDGER — MARCH 28, 2012 —


A few nights ago I was watching one of those cable network news shows and the panel was discussing some of the televised political ads that are currently being aired in many of the states which are holding 2012 presidential primaries. The talking heads on the panel weren’t all that interesting, but the actual verbiage and images being used in the ads were. In fact, it was actually pretty disturbing to watch politicians who desperately want to be the President of the United States call each other every name imaginable, and do so in ways that stretch the truth so badly that it is actually nothing less than lying.


After the show was over, I found myself reflecting on why our current political discourse has gotten so nasty and unkind. But since our politicians only reflect the voters they long to impress, the answer must be with us as individuals, and not just with those we choose to lead us. And the more I tried to get my head around such a sad reality, the more I found myself thinking back to Jack Vincent, an elderly little man who used to live right across the street from the house I grew up in on Michigan Boulevard here in West Sacramento.

Jack was a man of great energy for someone his age, or at least it seemed like it because when he walked, he always did so at what was warp speed for him. And the one thing which really set his walk apart was that he was very bow-legged, and the combination of that and the speed he tried to get up to when he was on foot made him very noticeable when he was shuffling from place to place. But as interesting as Jack’s way of walking was, the thing which really made him unique – and so memorable to me – was how he always went about interacting with his fellow man. I doubt that Jack’s special way of talking to other people was a conscious or calculated thing on his part, but rather just an extension of who he was as a person, and it went something like this:

  Whenever Jack would see someone, be they a few feet away from him or way across the street, he would find a way (with a big smile on his face) to pass along a compliment, or just say something nice that, thinking back on it after it had happened to you, would make your day. And it didn’t matter if you were young or old, short or tall, skinny or fat, black or white, rich or poor, in fancy clothes or in hand-me-downs, because Jack could always somehow come up with a compliment that seemed to be genuine, more or less accurate, and right from his heart. He seemed determined to always be nice and thoughtful and kind to everyone who crossed his path.

In my particular case (remembering that I was in my early teens at the time), Jack would say such things as, “Now Daryl, that’s a great haircut you just got! It makes you look really handsome! Boy, are the girls going to be after you now!” Or, “I wish I could throw a ball up against my garage door the way you do yours! What an arm! I bet someday the New York Yankees are going to be after you!” Or, “I think it’s great that you always help your dad with the yardwork! Hard-working young boys like you make me feel good about the future of this great country of ours!”

So when Jack was done with me I usually felt like I could take on the world and that it was only a matter of time before I would be driving the girls crazy and playing shortstop for the New York Yankees! And as time went by, I began to notice that Jack’s ability to always be thoughtful and never mean-spirited had the very same effect on others as it did on me. And many was the time I would overhear Jack making someone else’s day, and then see them stroll away from him smiling and with a little more spring in their step, all because a little old man who walked funny chose to take a minute or two out of his day to say something kind and nice to a fellow human being.

So, at a relatively early age I learned that if we really want to, we can actually choose to make those around us feel good about themselves, or we can just as easily choose to do the opposite. We can consciously decide to bring out the very best in others, or we can constantly harp on all their week points. We can send people on their way to face another tough day with a smile on their face, or we can weigh them down with ugly words and make them feel heavy.

  One of my favorite sayings (although I no longer remember who wrote it and have probably rearranged the words a bit over the years) is: “If there is any kindness I can do, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.” For whatever reason, Jack Vincent had decided to live his life that way, and maybe if more of us dedicated ourselves to the same goal, we could actually have ourselves a relatively civil society again, and our politicians and their political consultants wouldn’t dare fill our airways with all those hateful words, half-truths and lies.

  Support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

What do you want from your library?

GUEST COMMENTARY from the March 7, 2012 News-Ledger:

By Patty Wong
Yolo County Librarian

When I came to Yolo County Library as the County Librarian, I got to know people from grass-roots community groups that have supported the Library for over one hundred years.   Each branch of the Yolo County Library has local residents who contribute their time and energy to support their local library.  All of us at the Yolo County Library want to ensure this on-going community involvement in public libraries.  To reach this goal, we’ve begun our first-ever strategic planning process.

I’d like to invite all residents to participate in a survey that will help shape the future of Yolo County Public Libraries.  The survey is part of a strategic planning process that includes research, public comment, interviews and discussion sessions with community leaders and library staff.  Some of the questions I’d like folks to think about are:  What makes Yolo County a unique community?  Why is Yolo County a great place to live, work and raise a family?  Through your comments, we’ll learn about our community’s needs and vision for the future.  We’ll use this information to build a stronger public library.

In many ways the public library is an integral part of the quality of life in Yolo County.  It serves the information needs of all residents, including recreational reading, research, online computer access, ready for kindergarten and adult literacy programs, volunteer opportunities and much more.  Small business owners use the public library to work and read up on new management publications.  Parents bring their children to the library for free events, homework help and a constant source of new books to read.  Programs for older adults help answer their questions about financial issues and health care.

  In recent years, we’ve implemented new conveniences such as downloadable e-books and held classes for community members to learn how to use this new technology.  A new mobile website allows residents to check their library account on their smart device to see if their requested book, movie or CD is waiting for them.

Our communities have changed too, and library services are needed more than ever in our rural areas such as Knights Landing and Yolo.  These small libraries help close the digital divide in rural areas where information is harder to access because of distance, scarcity of community gathering places and the lack of high speed cable.  These libraries also provide access to resources for rural residents to live happy and productive lives in a complex and ever-changing world.

I invite you to participate in the Yolo County Library planning process by completing the survey or by contacting Elizabeth Gray, Assistant County Librarian (530) 666-8084 or, with your input.

The survey will be available soon online at and will be available in hard copy format in all Yolo County branch libraries.  Those who complete the survey may choose to be entered in a raffle to win a book or tote bag.

The Yolo County Library needs your help in shaping the future direction of our public libraries. Please join us in the endeavor.

Foster care, & a bowl of soup

Cherie Schroeder, Humberto Izquierdo & his daughter Julieta, Sammie Corbacho with Soup’s On Host Supervisor Don Saylor, Adriana Perez, Dave Storms and his family, Mary Beth Gustafson holding daughter Olivia. Photo courtesy of Laurie Friedman

 NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 22, 2012 —

From the Woodland Community College Foster & Kinship Care Education Program

It was a recipe for success.  Begin with a great cause, mix in dozens of volunteers, over 60 delicious homemade soups and a silent auction. Next, open the doors to the public for about four hours and voila! Serve up a fabulous event to assist Yolo County’s most vulnerable children.

What started eight years ago, in Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor’s home with three pots of soup, burst the Davis Community Church’s capacity on January 26th as the 8th Annual Soup’s On benefit was held in support of local foster care.

  Over 350 guests enjoyed homemade soup, live music by Neon Lite and guitarist David Hafter, and a bountiful silent auction, organized by Woodland Community College President Dr. Angela Fairchilds.  A wonderful time was had and best of all – when the adding machines quieted, the tally for the evening was well over $22,000.  These funds will be used to give local foster children the opportunity to shop for new clothes and essential items when first brought into care, plus the chance to earn high school or college credits at the Woodland Community College with curriculum to “Open Doors to Success”.

“The message of this evening is that foster parents look like you and me”, said Cherie Schroeder, Woodland Community College Foster and Kinship Care Education program director and the county’s coordinator for foster care recruitment and retention.

Foster-to-adopted youth Jessica Shockey expressed her gratitude and joy saying “I love foster-care,” and proud mother, Lynne Shockey, standing by Jessica’s side, concurred and spoke about the joy of fostering and watching the miracle of positive change.

Supervisor Saylor thanked the community for their incredible support saying “These are our kids.  Together, we can transform their lives for the better.”

The organizers of the Soup’s On benefit want to thank all the individuals who volunteered their time, businesses for generous contributions, and those who gave so whole-heartedly in these tough fiscal times.   A special thank you goes out to Supervisor Saylor for his inspiration and to his amazing support team lead by Deputy Diane Parro and Assistant Deputy Emily Henderson.

For information about becoming a foster or foster-to-adopt parent in Yolo County, please go to or give Cherie Schroeder a call at (530) 574-1964.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

YOUR VOICES: U-Haul sign too tall?

U-Haul, West Capitol Avenue (2010 News-Ledger file photo)


On Feb. 8, the News-Ledger published a story detailing how U-Haul was taking the City of West Sacramento to court in a challenge to the city’s sign ordinance. The ordinance — phased in 20 years — declares the West Capitol Avenue rental company’s pole sign is just too tall and must go.

Last week on our Facebook page, we asked for your views. Here are most of your responses:

Robert Stroy: I think if the signs are well kept they should stay no matter the size. signs are often a great business boomer and the City should respect and encourage these types things and leave well enough alone.

Debbie Norton Johnson: West Capitol looks so much better now that it isn’t littered with signs of all shapes, sizes and quality. Every other business has taken the 20 years (very reasonable time frame) to change their signage – except UHAUL.

I’ve never understood why they couldn’t lower the big letters about half way in size. It is a monstrosity. The argument that people won’t be able to find it, doesn’t ring true for me because every truck on the property says UHAUL. I like seeing the trees and the nice sidewalks and landscaping down parts of West Cap and would love to see the whole Ave beautified.

Eve Westvik: I think the city totally turned the Avenue into a dull, uninteresting strip with no character. I don’t even recognize the place anymore, it’s so soulless now. A boulevard as wide as that needs something to give it personality or everything just fades into the background. It’s no wonder there are few businesses of note there anymore. . . Thank goodness a large corporation actually wants to do business in West Sacramento. It looks better than the crummy little restaurants and liquor stores that now dot the Avenue here and there.

Shannon Gentry: Have they already removed it??The city needs to find something better to cry about…. The people do – like their depleating paychecks and increased everything else…. And you want to focus such an amount of energy on a “too high” sign that’s been a staple for SO MANY years…

Cynthia ‘Cindi’ Islas: Who cares about the sign, get rid of the crappy, run down motels that consistently have garbage, matresses, tires, and overgrown weeds all around them. Fight a battle that will actually IMPROVE West Capital and Merkely cause right now, it’s a big fat FAIL!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  To comment on this article, visit the same article at by clicking  here.

You can view the original article about the U-Haul sign here. 

And you can visit the News-Ledger on Facebook here if you’re a Facebook member.  Don’t forget to ‘like’ us at the Facebook page!

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Hero’s memory revived by school project

Joe at the stick of his helicopter, with his door gunner behind him



Amid all the wonders out there on the Internet is a website specifically dedicated to remembering the 58,178 American soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. It is called the Virtual Wall, and on it are countless remembrances, poems, photos, videos and letters honoring those who never made it back home from that long ago war. And from time to time, usually on Memorial Day or Veterans Day, I have left a remembrance or two on the Virtual Wall in memory of some of the fine young men I served with overseas back in the late 1960s, which brings me to my little story.

DARYL FISHER, the author

MADDY HINES: Texas student doing an English project focused on the Vietnam War -- and in particular, on helicopter pilot Joe Vad, who didn't make it home

The other day, while checking my email messages on my computer at work, I noticed that one of them had the name Joe Vad in the subject line.  Henry (Joe) Vad was a very fine helicopter pilot who lost his life back in November of 1969 while providing combat air support for the Aero Rifle Platoon I served in, so I was of course very eager to open up the email and find out who had sent it. And as I began to read, I also began to feel pretty good about this new generation of Americans.

“Hi Mr. Fisher. My name is Maddy Hines and I am a junior at Westlake High School is Austin, Texas. My English III AP class is learning about the Vietnam War. We were each given the name of an American soldier who passed away in the war to create a memorial about. I am honored to have been given the name of your friend, Henry Joseph Vad. I will be creating a video memorial of his life and would love to get some information from you about him. If you have any pictures, stories, or general information about Mr. Vad that you would be willing to share with me, I would greatly appreciate it. For more information about this project, please feel free to contact my teacher, Rebecka Stucky, and if you would like to see some of the memorials her classes have created in the past, you can go to And thank you so much for your help. Maddy Hines.”

PILOT JOE VAD, strolling near the aifield (background) and soldiers' "hooches"

Many years ago, I had written a column about Joe Vad, so I sent off the following paragraph from it to Maddy:

“Joe was from the tough streets of New York City and he had spent quite a bit of time in the Marines before deciding he wanted to be an officer and go to flight school and learn how to fly a helicopter. He liked being in the military, and since he had once been an enlisted man, he was really nice to those who flew with him. He was a very sweet guy with a great sense of humor and he got along well with everyone on the base. As a Chief Warrant Officer with D Troop, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, of the 1st Infantry Division, his job was to fly air reconnaissance and combat air support for the Aero Rifle Platoon I served with on the ground below him. He was a truly amazing pilot who could make his OH-6A scout helicopter do the most remarkable things. He was easy to smile, fearless to a fault, seemingly invincible, and on the day he and his doorgunner, SP5 James Downing, were shot out of the sky by enemy fire and killed, the whole troop had a very difficult time believing, and dealing, with it. He left behind a loving wife and an infant daughter, Lisa, who over the years has contacted numerous members of our troop in an effort to learn more about the father she never knew.”

It turns out that Maddy was already in contact with Lisa, who was providing her with lots of photos and information about her father. I also sent her the email address of Terry Houck, a member of my squad who knew Joe much better than I did, knowing that he would also be able to get Maddy in contact with some of the helicopter pilots Joe flew with before his death.

The next time I heard from Maddy she wrote, “I am so honored to be making a memorial for Joe Vad. My teacher has been giving her students this assignment for years, but I didn’t know hardly anything about the Vietnam War before this project. I knew that it happened in the late sixties and that there was a Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, but that was about it. My parents really enjoy watching me do all my research for this project. They think it is important for me to realize what really happened in the Vietnam War and they are happy that I am coming in contact with people from all over the United States who knew Joe Vad. My friends and classmates are all doing this project, too, and they love it. Everyone is really getting into it and think it’s very interesting. I have learned so much about American culture and the history of that time and it has explained a lot about veterans that I didn’t understand before. I have also learned that war is a very serious thing, and that it should not be taken lightly, and how awful and traumatic it can be for so many people. It has also allowed me to get to know a person in a different way than normal and feel very connected to him. I am so excited to be doing this project!”

  Someone once said that if we are remembered by just one other person, then we never really die. And Maddy’s video memorial to Joe means that many more people will get to know about a good, brave and decent man, who once lived and loved, “felt dawn and saw sunset glow.” And for having done that, Maddy, those of us who served with Joe Vad will always be in your debt.

  Support local journalism, and see all our articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledger.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailboxl.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012